301 Redirects Vs. Canonical; Which One to Use and When?

Published On: February 24, 2016Categories: SEO Services

The 301 redirect and Canonical options have been around for several years but they have a propensity of creating confusion along with raising questions and debate on best practices. The most pervasive issue in the world of SEO practitioners is when to use 301 Redirect and Canonical, and which one is more effective. This is a bit difficult to answer; as both the practices are significant in their particular areas and the marketers should be well aware of that.

This piece of content will focus on both the methods and will let you know their importance in the field of search engine ranking. Keep on reading:

  • When and How to Use 301 Redirect?

Let’s begin with 301 Redirect, designed to help search engines and users to find content that have been moved to a new address or URL. Adding this option signifies that the content of your page has been moved to somewhere else.

  • What It Does For Users And Search Engines?

It is obvious that users will never notice that the URL is redirecting to a different page unless they spot the change in the URL address. But, as long as the content is similar to what they are looking for, users will not get affected. So, to keep visitors happy, adding 301 Redirect is fine.

If search engines find a URL with 301 Redirect on it, they will follow the redirect to the new URL and will de-index the old page. They will also pass link juice to the new URL, but not 100 percent.

As per theory, search engine will remove the old page from their index. This may take a few weeks, but not more than that.

  • Mistakes That Needs To Be Avoided

The most common mistake that developers do is mixing up 301 and 302. 302 is meant to be used only when the content is temporarily moved. This issue needs to be fixed; otherwise web pages and sites will suffer. Another mistake is about site migration. When you are having 500 pages, you should put 500 301 redirect. But majority redirect all the 500 pages to a single URL, the homepage and as a result, the site gets overloaded.

  • When to Use 301 Redirect?

If you are moving your website to a new location, you must add 301 Redirect. You will definitely not want the users to see your old page, especially when you are moving a site because of new design. If your site features expired content, adding redirect 301 is a must.

  • When and how to use Canonical Tag?

Emerged in the year 2009, this is relatively a new tool for SEOs. There will lift up many situations when the implementation of 301 Redirect will become tricky. In such a situation, the canonical tag is easier to implement as it does not involve performing anything server side. Basically, it is just a case of editing the tag on the page.

Usage of re-canonical is purely for the benefit of search engines. There will arise several situations when a number of web pages will have similar or identical content. As we all know that duplicate content should be avoided, this is when you should use re-canonical.

Fox example if you have two pages listing the same series of products, content but different URLs, Google will index both the pages and will pick up the one it believes the most relevant and could filter the page you want to be appearing in the SERPs. By placing the canonical tag, on the alphabetical pages, you are telling that the price page is your preferred choice. This also tells the search engine that you praise the content of both the pages.

  • When not to Use Canonical Tag?

Using the tag on brand new websites is not correct. Canonical tag in the first page of a paginated series will hamper the content of your webpage. The most common misuse of this tag is that it is implemented on pages that don’t have large percentage of content. If the webpage doesn’t have duplicate content, no need of using the tag.

Honestly speaking, redirect options can be irritating sometimes. As a marketer, it is necessary to have a clear idea about both the methods so that you can execute them properly. Both the options passes similar amount of link juice and are treated similarly by Google. But in general, the 301 redirect is considered as the preferred route.

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